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Expert: Asylum Petition Outcomes Vary Widely

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Posted: Jun 27, 2014 6:41 PM

Updated: Jun 30, 2014 2:58 PM

McALLEN - The outcome of an asylum request varies widely all across the country, legal experts said.

An immigrant's chances of being granted asylum depend on the section of the country where the immigration court is located. Even the specific courtroom can have an impact on the outcome.

The numbers are literally all over the map when it comes to asylum grant rates.

The numbers of asylum petitions granted from 2007 to 2012 range from zero for one judge and 95 percent for another one.

Immigration attorneys say one reason for the disparity is that judges see very different populations. Judges in the Rio Grande Valley see illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America. The region has low success rates in asylum hearings. Judges in New York may see immigrants from China or Ethiopia. They have much higher success rates.

The numbers also can vary widely even within a single courthouse. In San Antonio, the grant rate goes from 11 percent to 67 percent, depending on the judge.

To get asylum, immigrants must prove that they've been persecuted in the past or will be in the future. Immigration Attorney Lionel Perez said the problem is that persecution is in the eye of the beholder.

"The difference between the judges in the same area, it's based on the personal opinion of the judge as to what they think persecution is or is not," Perez said.

Perez said he stopped taking asylum cases because the odds of winning were just too low.

"You can do everything right and the judge may still think, ‘no, in my opinion, this guy does not deserve the discretion or he does not prove that he's going to be persecuted,'" Perez said.

Legal experts said the number of asylum petitions have increased over the years, but not the grant rate.

Topics: lionel perez, immigration, asylum, petition, judge, rate, grant, border, patrol, rio grande valley, south, texas, immigration policy

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